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Federal government tops up business relief program for Western Canada

Edmonton Journal | Jeff Labine

Small-to-medium sized businesses in Western Canada will have access to an additional $263.7-million in COVID-19 relief funding, the federal government announced Friday.

The top-up is part of a larger $600-million cash infusion to the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF). The relief fund was launched in May to support businesses that didn’t qualify for other programs. A portion of the additional funding, $67-million, will be dedicated to helping rural businesses across the west through the Community Futures part of the RRRF program.

Economic Development Minister Mélanie Joly said in a news release small and medium businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic.

“The (RRRF) is here to help (businesses), protecting 11,000 jobs across Western Canada,” Joly said in the release. “As the situation rapidly evolves, we’ve heard clearly from businesses and workers that more support is needed. That’s why we’re enhancing and expanding the RRRF to help even more Westerners.”

Funding is distributed through the six Regional Development Agencies. The Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), which covers Manitoba to British Columbia, has received more than $304 million in funding through RRRF so far. The top-up brings that total to $567.9 million.

According to WD, the RRRF funding is open to businesses with fewer than 500 full-time employees, not located in a rural area, operating as of March 1, 2020, have been financially struggling because of the pandemic, intend to continue working in Western Canada and not eligible for other federal programs.

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